Friday, June 1, 2018

Cautionary tale....forty years gone "snap" like THAT!

Clematis integrifolia ex Kazakhstan
  If you think Social Media is a time waster, don't even THINK about gardening. I just did the math--I first started working at Denver Botanic Gardens in 1980: that actually amounts to forty years ago (you try counting on your fingers and see what they say!). The years have passed like "snap" (you're supposed to snap your fingers!)...and just this afternoon I dashed out to the Rock Alpine Garden with blinkers on to see the budded Ostrowskya (wait for another blog to see THAT) and an hour later I came back--and here are but a smattering of the images.

Clematis integrifolia 'Mongolian Bells' (white form)
 I wonder if some genetic studies will keep both of these taxa in the same species--the compact form in Plant Select is so distinct. The giant form we found in Kazakhstan amazes me by staying upright without staking--it's a meter tall.

 Most of the little clematis are done, but this hybrid is still blooming in the Rock Alpine Garden...believed to be C. fremontii x scottii. Sounds good to me.

Delosperma 'Alan Tower'
Most of the massive mats of delospermas in the Steppe garden had closed their flowers, except for this one, that should have been dubbed 'Son of Kelaidis'...Alan grew it from seed of my namesake.

There are still peonies blazing in this garden and that.

Here's a snail's eye view of Lilium martagon 'Album' in Woodland Mosaic.

Lonicera floribunda 'Kintzley's Ghost'
 Not quite so ghostly when it blooms. One of the best hardy vines.

Iris versicolor in peak bloom...

A fine specimen of Horminum pyreneicum in the Rock Alpine Garden.

 The Rock Alpine Garden is a mass of color from one end to the other. I could have spent a day there. Come to think of it, I spent decades here.

 None of the plants shown here were growing during my tenure: Mike Kintgen has done a masterful job of keeping the best of what was there, and radically upping the ante each year with more treasure.

 A fine dwarf Yucca harrimaniae.

Dracunculus vulgaris
 A rock gardener from Arkansas gave us our start with these, and now there are dozens of seedlings showing up. There will probably be a few dozen open by Sunday, not a good time to check them out unless you've lost your sense of smell!

I was thrilled to see a peachy seedling.

 Hemerocallis graminea from Mongolia, Collected by Vojtech Holubec some 30 years ago: so excited that he'll be here in September!

Euphorbia seguiriana v. niciceana
 I loce this Euphorb. I need it in my garden!

 The Dryland Mesa has a great stand of Oenothera (Calylophus)

 No buds yet on the giant clump of Opuntia engelmannii: what gives? I suppose it will be late this year?

Salvia dorrii
 We have only one measley plant of this: there are so many wild forms. I must get some to grow in my own garden and then maybe Nick Daniel will get jealous and plant more!

Delphinium generi
  We struggle to grow Meconopsis...but there are so many fantastic blue delphiniums, many of them xeric like our glorious native from the piedmont near Denver. I am so jealous of this planting! (I've tried it but it doesn't like my sandy soil as much as it likes clay loam)...
Delphinium generi

Delphinium generi

Diascia integerrima 'Coral Canyon'
I always thrill to see this, one of my godchildren from South Africa...

The "Nexus berm"
This is going to look very different in a week!

I took this two nights ago, but as I look out my window tonight, the sunset looks pretty much the same.

Time in the garden feels eternal when you're there, but when you leave you see the decades have slipped past! I warn you next week the foxtail lilies will be in peak bloom, and Denver Botanic Gardens will be one vast artist's canvas. Don't say I didn't warn you! I'd stick to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram--they're far less time consuming!


  1. What's the story with the "Nexus berm"? I'm assuming it's about to be planted, but with...? And The Nexus nexus is...?

    Those Delphinium generi are astounding and astoundingly beautiful. Thanks for sharing the riches of the DBG with us.

    1. The Nexus berm was planted this week (and I've missed seeing it: must wait three weeks to do so now since I'm off to China.

      It will be planted with cacti and other special succulents: promises to be unique!

      Nexus berm is named for the regional Greenhouse company Nexus that has built many of our greenhouses. This honors some of their pro bono support.

      Hope that helps explain things! And thanks for your kind comments.

  2. I've had jobs were I had to sit in front of a computer for many hours a day (much more than eight). Forty years of gardening sounds like pleasure. Sitting in front of a computer all day for forty year is my idea of hell.

  3. You make me blush, James: it's true I've had a blessed work life--but it's not all been flowers and roses: there's many an hour spent in front of computers, budgeting and boring meetings and other tedious stuff too--don't let me fool you! But the good stuff is in there too.


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